IGD - Economics bulletin 29 June

Date : 29 June 2021

Your overview of political and economic news with a focus on the food and consumer goods industry, featuring the latest developments and guidance on COVID-19 and adapting to a new relationship with the EU.

Northern Ireland – 30 June deadline for P&R goods

At the time of writing, the EU commission has yet to respond to a request from the UK government for a three-month extension to the grace period for sending certain Prohibited & Restricted goods (P&Rs), including chilled meat products, from Great Britain to Northern Ireland which is currently due to end on 30 June.

However, European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefcovic said yesterday that he had been in "intensive contact" with the European Parliament and EU member states in recent days about the UK's request, and that he remains confident that a solution can be found before 30 June that will address both sides' needs and concerns.

The government also continues to explore the potential for a trusted trader scheme with the EU Commission to alleviate challenges of moving goods from GB to Northern Ireland under the Protocol.

EU settlement scheme – deadline tomorrow

Today is the final day that EU, EEA or Swiss citizens can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK beyond that date.

See all the key dates for UK-EU transition and other support for businesses that trade with the EU. This includes changes to EU Animal Health Regulations.

Labour shortage update

IGD continues to hear widespread reports of challenges relating to a shortage of HGV drivers as well as broader labour availability issues which seem to be regionalised and for some specific roles. Lincolnshire, the South, and the South-West have been identified as particular hotspots where there are very significant challenges in recruiting operational labour.

Government officials have said that they recognise the significant impact of labour shortages on the food and consumer goods industry, with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) keen to obtain intelligence on any issues impacting the food supply chain.

This follows a number of industry stakeholders raising concerns over the shortage of HGV drivers. In a recent letter to the Prime Minister, the Road Haulage Association described a shortage of more than 100,000 HGV drivers compared to around 60,000 prior to the pandemic.

Obesity strategy update for HFSS products

The government has announced a response to the consultation on advertising restrictions for products high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) products.

The response confirms that at the end of 2022, it will simultaneously introduce a 9pm TV watershed for HFSS products and a restriction of paid-for HFSS advertising online.

This is the second consultation response restricting the promotion of HFSS products at point of sale and through advertising.

  1. New promotional restrictions on using volume price and location promotions in store and online
  2. New advertising rules to prevent childhood obesity

Ongoing discussions are taking place between DEFRA and The Department for Health and Social Care and about the timings for implementing both policies. This follows some concerns raised by industry about ensuring enough time is allowed for introducing the required changes. Officials have advised that businesses should still assume that changes will be implemented by government in April 2022 as planned.

See more details about the strategy to tackle obesity in the wake of COVID-19 and IGD’s view.

COVID-19 restrictions set to ease

Despite rising COVID-19 case numbers, the Prime Minister has said that people in England are "very likely" to be able to return to "pretty much life before Covid" on 19 July. The new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has also said that he "sees no reason to go beyond" that "target date."

This follows a previous delay to the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions has also been delayed in Scotland (regulations to be reviewed by 19 July), Wales (regulations to be reviewed by 15 July) and Northern Ireland (regulations to be reviewed on or before 8 July).

Deliveroo surge testing notifications

The government has announced that Deliveroo will use its app and website to notify customers if surge testing is happening in their area. See this link for more details.

Access to supermarket delivery slots

Priority access to supermarket delivery slots for the clinically extremely vulnerable ended in England on 21 June 2021.

Different policies apply for the clinically extremely vulnerable in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Pacific free trade area negotiations

The UK has launched negotiations to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The government has published its outline strategic approach for negotiations to join CPTPP.

Deadline for appointments to the Trade and Agriculture Commission

Those interested have until 4 July 2021 to express an interest in applying for a number of roles at the Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC). The role of TAC is to scrutinise terms of free trade agreements. See this link for more details.

More economic news and analysis

Sign up to our bulletin

Our round-up of the latest economic and political news, focused on FMCGs